Frederick County Council will hear public comments on its recommendations for the legislative package that the state delegation will present to the Maryland General Assembly in January on Tuesday.
The council’s four initiatives – two of which have been proposed in previous years – include issues ranging from vacancies on the county’s education board and the language used in property tax rates to restrictions on buildings used for agritourism and council support for a draft state climate law.
Council Chairperson MC Keegan-Ayer (D) said she expects a handful of voters to comment on the proposals at Tuesday’s meeting.
Councilor Steve McKay (R) ‘s recommendation would change the process by which vacancies are filled within the county school board.
Currently, the county executive appoints a replacement who serves until the end of the current term. McKay’s proposal would include vacancies on the Education Council on the ballots in the election closest to the vacancy occurring, giving voters the floor before term expires. A person appointed by the county executive would always fill the vacant seat before the election.
With board approval, McKay’s proposal would return to Annapolis for the third time, said Joy Schaefer, director of government affairs. County representatives, understanding the senses. Ron Young (R) and Michael Hough (R) and six delegates, will likely be familiar with the concerns of their colleagues that have prevented legislation from becoming law in previous years.
McKay’s was the last proposal in effect after two of the county’s three recommendations were withdrawn in 2021 in a session in which pandemic restrictions forced lawmakers to be more selective about their legislative priorities. Schaefer believed the proposal had a good chance of becoming law, but the rapid pace of the last session prevented county officials from addressing lawmakers’ concerns in time for it to pass, she said.
County officials are hopeful that another recommendation, from City Councilor Jerry Donald (D), would clear up confusion about the constant return tax rate – a property tax rate that, when paired with appraisals , ensures that a tax authority receives the same income in the next taxable year. done in the previous one, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
If the county’s constant rate of return remains unchanged and the department determines that a property’s value has increased, the county’s tax bill also increases. State law requires the county to call this a tax increase, although the rate remains unchanged, according to county documents. The county’s tax rate has not changed since 2014, Keegan-Ayer said. Donald’s proposal would give county officials the power to change the wording.
Like McKay’s recommendation, Donald’s was part of the council’s 2020 legislative package.
A third proposal, from City Councilor Jessica Fitzwater (D), would add Frederick County to a list of counties exempt from certain building permits on structures used for agrotourism. Opponents of the proposal, including county executive Jan Gardner (D), said exempting buildings used for agri-tourism from state permit requirements could raise public safety concerns.
Another recommendation from Fitzwater would ask the Frederick County delegation to push for climate legislation that would increase the statewide greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirement by 40% by 2030. at 60%. State lawmakers proposed the legislation, known as the Climate Solutions Now Act, in the 2021 session. While sections of the law have been passed as part of other bills, the major part will return to Annapolis in the next session.
After hearing public comment on Tuesday, the board will reconsider the four proposals on September 28 for a vote. The body’s final recommendations will be part of the county’s legislative package, which will include initiatives from Gardner. County heads will then present the package to the state delegation in November.
Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan